State Sen. Marty Golden claims food carts starved iconic Bay Ridge eatery Hinsch’s to death — but the beloved luncheonette’s owner says his business actually withered away because of the neighborhood’s fat rents and changing tastes.
Golden (R–Bay Ridge) blamed Hinsch’s impending March 1 closure on a pair of halal vendors that park down the block on Fifth Avenue between 86th and 87th streets, claiming the carts forced the ice cream parlor out of business because they benefit from unfair advantages, such as not paying rent or utilities.
“In large part, the thriving food cart industry on the corner has closed Hinsch’s,” said Golden, calling for a crackdown on street sellers. “The vendors have won this battle, but we can’t allow this to continue.”
Hinsch’s co-owner Roger Desmond — who saved his soda fountain from the brink of closure in 2011 — said he was never in competition with the chicken-and-rice peddlers because his confectionery appealed to young families and the elderly, while cart-goers were typically 20-something singles.
“The clientele I have is not a food cart type-clientele,” he said. “They had nothing to do with Hinsch’s closing.”
Desmond doesn’t blame the carts for the death of Hinsch’s — but he’s no fan of the falafel wagons.
Last spring, Desmond — who pays $9,000 in monthly rent and $15,000 in water bills annually — joined other brick-and-mortal merchants to protest the vendors in a demonstration dubbed “Save Our Streets.”
Advocates for the sellers of sellers of meals on wheels spat out Golden’s claims, claiming that studies show cheap eats on-the-go don’t take customers from storefront businesses.
“It has been shown that vendors do not compete with brick-and-mortars,” said Sean Basinski, director of the Street Vendor Project, a group that lobbies on behalf of mobile vendors. “People looking for a sit-down experience at a restaurant aren’t going to go to a food cart.”Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma